Industrialist MAM Ramaswamy passes away
Veteran industrialist, former parliamentarian and the last King of Chettinad, MAM Ramaswamy died on Wednesday evening at Chennai’s Fortis Malar Hospital. He was ailing for a while and on treatment at the hospital from November 7. He was 84.
Known as MAMR in political, business and sports circles, all of which he was an important part of, he was born into a respected family in the Nattukottai Chettiar community, also known as ‘The Rajah Family’. His grandfather Rajah Sir Annamalai Chettiar and his father Rajah Sir MA Muthiah Chettiar along with his uncles MRM Ramanathan Chettiar and MA Chidambaram Chettiar assiduously built the Chettinad Group into a business empire in Tamil Nadu.
The Chettinad Group has diverse interests in cement, granite, engineering among others. As he was building his business empire, he also developed a passion for horses and horse racing. He was the first to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for having won 100 Classics. The tally later went up to 400 classics. His love for sports did not end with horses; he had a great interest in tennis and hockey too. MAMR was the president of the Indian Hockey Federation and it was during his stewardship in 1975, India won its World Cup hockey championship.
MAMR transformed the Annamalai University (in Chidambaram), founded by his family in 1929. From a mere seven departments, he developed it into an institution with 48 departments. Members of the Chettinad Palace (near the Adyar River), where he lived, say that he and his wife Sigappi Aachi were very generous. Anyone who knocked on their gates seeking help walked away with what they wished for. MAMR and his wife Sigappi Aachi did not have any children. In the 1990s, the duo decided to adopt a son to look after them. In 1995, they adopted Ayyappan and named him MAMR Muthiah. In 2004, H D Deve Gowda gave him a ticket in his party Janata Dal (Secular). He was the Member of Parliament representing Karnataka in the Rajya Sabha.
After the death of Sigappi Aachi in 2006, there was bitterness between him and his son. In 2014, MAMR, who was then the chairman of Chettinad Cement, was eased out from the board by the shareholders during its 51 AGM. He was made the Chairman Emeritus. The last one year he was nearly confined to his bed, family sources say. And he also claimed that his life was under threat because of his adopted son. In June 2015, MAMR declared that he had disowned his adopted son.